Ask a wolf why it howls at the moon,
or a writer what drives him to create.
When I was small I would write songs and stories, hunched over the family two-bar electric fire, one bar of which worked and left an angry red welt across the shinbone.
Grew up in Greenock in the West of Scotland and didn’t fit in. Couldn’t fight (nose bleed at the notion), flattered to deceive at football, no good at pulling girl’s pigtails.
Skiffle arrived just after puberty, surely this was my chance? A guitar virtuoso. No. I could sing a bit but not play; practise left more welts this time on the fingertips; no wonder they had the blues.
Left school at sixteen, worked in a bank for five years counting other people’s money. Got hooked on amateur drama, went to London, studied at Central School of Speech and Drama and came out with a troubled relationship to the telephone that lasts till this day. If it doesn’t ring – you - the actor – do not exist.
Started writing again in 1984, won the Radio Times Drama Award in ’85, and finally found something to fill the empty aching feeling that had nagged for such a time.
Meaning. The craft. Without it, I’m lost for words.
Not that the process is a breeze; clear water swirling round white pebbles and silvery little fish. No. No.
I awake with tightness in my gut, tease it out into words throughout the day then, like Sisyphus, start all over again next morning. A snake tied in knots.
But sometimes there flows through a word, a phrase, a paragraph, oh bugger it let’s go for a page, that has a balance and rhythm which dances. Just for a moment.
That’s what I live for - momentary meaning.
I finish in the dark, howl like a wolf and listen for a response on the wind.
For an instant, emptiness is kept at bay.
And the little boy, so long ago, still hunches over the pain and heat of promiscuous electricity.